[box cover]

Killer Nun

There was a time when a film about a naughty nun featuring Anita Ekberg and Alida Valli would've given the male of our species a collective heart attack, but that time was not 1978, which was when Giulio Berruti unleashed Killer Nun on that specialized section of the viewing public prone to paying good money to see stuff called Killer Nun. Though Ekberg, in her late forties by then, vamps it up convincingly as the disturbed Sister Gertrude, the picture actually is far less scandal-minded than its title suggests, with the older Valli relegated to a sexless cameo as the stern Mother Superior. The story is allegedly based on actual events and concerns the travails of the morphine-addicted Gertrude, whose drug-induced erratic behavior in her capacity as head nurse at an Italian hospital has her lashing out cruelly at her elderly patients (e.g., denying an invalid her IV drip, or stomping a woman's dentures into shards). Gertrude is convinced she is suffering from a cancerous brain tumor, though doctors, having run a whole battery of tests, aver otherwise. Refusing to believe that her malady is psychosomatic, Gertrude uses her imagined ailment as an excuse to indulge in sacrilegious behavior, such as pilfering a patient's wedding ring and pawning it for cash. This sequence is the closest the film gets to entertainingly licentious action; Gertrude dons a slinky cocktail dress and hits a nearby bar, where she entices a male patron into some quickie action in a nearby building's stairwell. Back at the hospital, Gertrude succeeds in her scheming to remove the doctor who contradicted her diagnosis. He is replaced by the younger Dr. Roland (Joe Dellesandro), who doesn't know what to believe now that Gertrude's negative x-rays have been destroyed by her young, adoring subordinate Sister Mathieu (a smoldering Paola Morra). As Gertrude's delusions peak, matters turn murderous around the hospital, with the Sister staging one patient's suicide by chucking him out a window after cracking his skull with a candelabra. It's also at this point that Berruti begins employing some bizarre flashback sequences that appear to suggest some kind of experimental brain surgery, as well as a bit of necrophilia. It's all very lurid and very senseless, though that aforementioned section of the viewing public will undoubtedly thrill to the soft-core lesbian sequences between Ekberg and Morra (still, it should be noted that they're exceedingly tame compared to the Italian erotica so popular during that era). Always more beautiful than talented, Ekberg, no stranger to the trashy confines of Italian giallo flicks, still acquits herself with some dignity, but Berruti undermines her work by proving utterly incompetent at weaving together the narrative web of lesbianism, addiction, and schizophrenia (it comes as no surprise that this marked his second, and final, directorial effort). Had the film been a little less timid about wallowing in the exploitation gutter, it might've had a shot at a cult following; instead, all it has is its title. Blue Underground presents Killer Nun in a decent anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with monaural Dolby Digital audio. Extras include an interview with Giulio Berruti entitled "From the Secret Files of the Vatican," a poster and still gallery, and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks

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